Success in life is the sum of a lot of small things. I’ve discovered that only recently. I always thought that success required big thoughts and big actions. I let the little things go by the wayside.

Make this a great day
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Don’t get me wrong…big things matter and little things rarely change the world. But I’ve found 16 things I can do almost every day that make a big difference in the end. And they all take less than 5 minutes each.
No, you probably can’t add all 16 of these tomorrow. That would be unrealistic. Combined they take less than one hour to do, but I know that finding an extra hour per day can be hard at first, so pay attention to the action item below and start them one at a time.

16 simple things to make this a great day

1. List 3 things for which you are grateful.
Do this every day for thirty days and it will completely rewire you. I’ve been doing it and I never realized how much I am truly thankful for. 1 minute.
2. Drink a glass of water first thing after waking.
One of the first things I do in the morning is guzzle 12 ounces of water. It’s the best way to get your day going. You’ll instantly be hydrated and alert for the day. 1 minute.
3. List your top 3 things for the day.
You can list more elsewhere, but focus on those 3. Nothing more. You can do this first thing in the morning or at night. 1 minute.
4. Five-minute workout.
I used to be an all or nothing person. I was either going to get to the gym for 90 minutes or I was going to do nothing at all. Guess which one I did when I was pressed for time? Rather than get in a quick workout, I’d do nothing. Lame.
Now, when pressed for time, I get in a five minute workout. Even on days I do a much longer workout, I start my day with this one, right before I write in the morning. 5 minutes. 
If you’re interested in my five minute workout, simply click here to download the book

5-Minute Workout Book
Busy day ahead? Try the 5-Minute Workout to jumpstart your day. Free book.

5. Affirm yourself.
No, I’m talking Stuart Smalley. But taking 2 minutes to affirm yourself in the morning goes a long way. Here’s a good primer about the first words you say each day. 2 minutes.
6. Bless your children.
If you don’t have children, well you can skip this one.
Take 1 minute to intentionally speak positive words into your children before you leave for the day. I started doing this with Aracelli and now she asks for a blessing. Not religious? Then take that minute to tell your children something positive about themselves. Encourage them and declare good things over their lives. 1 minute.
Read more about positive declarations (and get a free declarations cheat sheet to get started). 
7. Clean up your office.
Or your bedroom or anything in the house. You don’t need to deep clean. A simple running of the vaccum over the rug in my office makes a big difference. Spend just 3 minutes tidying up the most used areas of your office or home goes a long way. 3 minutes.
8. Call someone to wish him or her a Happy Birthday.
Happy Birthday calls are next level networking at its finest. You’ll enjoy the call and solidify your network in the process. 5 minutes.
9. Eat lunch with someone.
This is the hardest one for me as I work in my office alone. But, if you do it consistently, it takes no longer to eat with someone than without. You don’t have to go out either. I frequently sat with other people at a previous job over frozen dinners or leftovers. No extra time.
10. Write a thank you note.
It will make you 31% more productive. Seriously, check out the research.
Need inspiration for topics? Join the Thank You Revolution. 4 minutes.
11. Take two.
Set a reminder to just stop every two hours during your work day. For two minutes, don’t do anything. Just sit or stand quietly. Learning to do this is a mental discipline that, once mastered, will significantly reduce stress. 8 minutes.
12. Develop a mid-afternoon ritual.
It might be a 10 minute walk around the office building or afternoon tea. Find something special to you for 5-10 minutes halfway between lunch and the end of your workday to escape the hustle and bustle for a moment. For me, it varies on the time of year, but always involves something physical. In addition to the activity, you’ll also get the benefit of anticipating it, which is often the best part. 10 minutes.
13. Listen to a particularly inspiring piece of music.
If you do this while driving or getting ready, it takes but a few seconds to get the song playing. Do you have an anthem? I’d love for you to share yours in the comments below. No extra time.
14. Exercise your creativity.
Do something creative for a few minutes or more. Build a lego tower. Write a short story. Play the piano or guitar. You pick, just make it creative. Time varies.
15. Look forward to something. Take 2 minutes to look forward to something. A vacation or seeing an old friend. A birthday party or the new job you start. It’s often better than the actual thing you are looking forward to. Helpful post: Find Something to Look Forward To. 2 minutes.
16. Think back on the day that was. Take some time to reflect on the past 24 hours. What went well? What didn’t? What did you learn? I usually combine this with my gratitude time in the mornings. (And don’t forget to think back on the week that was each weekend5 minutes.
If you literally did almost every single one of them each day, it would take less than one hour.

Action item: As always with your action item, don’t try to do all 16 of these things tomorrow or even in the next few months. Pick one to start today. Do that each day for a week or two and then add another. In less than a year, you will have added each of these to your routine. That will be life-changing!

I’d love to hear from you…
Which of these daily habits are you practicing? What would you add to this list?
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11 thoughts on “16 Simple Things to Make This a Great Day

  1. Some great suggestions Matt! I really like #3, #4, and #6.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Three of my favorites too!

  2. Stephanie Robbins says:

    Great list! Meditation always makes a great day for me as well as yoga. For me that is my #12. That mid day can be tough.
    If I am having a tough day, I make myself someone special and really good for me. My fav is a kale egg scramble. I make it really pretty on my plate. Afterwards I feel completely spoiled.

  3. Stephanie Robbins says:

    Oh and more more thing, I work from home alone. Some times, I have a phone call with a close friend over lunch. It is awesome

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      That is a good one. I need to do MORE of that.

  4. Zechariah Newman says:

    Great list Matt. Blessing my kids is something I’m very intentional about. Afternoon ritual is something I need to work on. Thanks!

  5. Gertrude Nonterah says:

    Calling someone to wish them a Happy Birthday is such a great idea which I hardly ever do unless the person is a family member. Thanks for this post Matt. I also love #6. And oh yes about the working out thing !! Thanks for a great post, Matt.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      I give all credit to Tom Corley on that one.

  6. Jana Botkin says:

    I love the idea of “look forward to something”. Every morning I awaken as an unbeliever, and things look so bleak. My default position is to horriblize the day ahead, and it is a daily battle. So, #15 is a winner for sure.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Is horriblize a word? Either way, that was funny 🙂
      Yes! Keep something in front of you to look forward to!

  7. Jon Stolpe says:

    Many of them, but #10 is my favorite.

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